Gambling with Customer Transaction Information Can Be Risky Business

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • The use of credit cards to complete sales transactions in a contact center has become commonplace, but assuming all contact centers have taken appropriate actions to mitigate the risks associated with these transactions is a mistake.
  • Since standards are not yet fully developed, customer service managers should implement agent-assisted solutions that enable agents to obtain personally identifiable information, such as credit card numbers and codes, without ever actually seeing or hearing it themselves.

Contact center compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), often referred to as PCI compliance, brings key security benefits to customer service operations and non-compliance can often have severe, long-lasting consequences.  PCI is the global data security standard that businesses and their customer interaction centers are required to follow in order to accept credit/debit card payments and to store and process related information at their site and/or transmit cardholder data between locations.  The obvious and immediate benefits of PCI compliance are likely to be increased customer security and trust, decreased customer churn and an improved status with credit card payment partners such as American Express, MasterCard and VISA, which will often require PCI compliance of their business partners.  Longer-term indirect benefits can include the fact that your center will likely be better prepared to include other security regulations as they are rolled out, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), if applicable to your business situation.  The bottom line is that if you operate a contact center that handles customer personal and financial information, PCI compliance is becoming more important, if not mandatory. Continue reading “Gambling with Customer Transaction Information Can Be Risky Business”

Social Media: Who Owns This Important Channel In Your Enterprise?

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Responsibility for the social media channel within an enterprise is normally awarded to the organization that brings it to the enterprise based on a specific original need.  However, this may not be the best place for it to reside long term.
  • While marketing, public relations, IT and customer service can all make a strong case for social media ownership, the best solution may be the formation of a cross-functional team to optimize the total value of social media information.

Due to its broad scope of useful information, the social media channel is difficult to place into a specific department within the enterprise.  Marketing and/or public relations departments often initiate and manage social media tracking programs within the enterprise, because the gathered information summarizes customer sentiment (good and bad) and often requires a rapid response to avoid public relations and marketing issues.  I may have a natural bias on the issue, since I am deeply involved as an analyst tracking contact centers and customer care, but customer care groups have a right to be intimately involved in managing social media efforts based on the fact that they are the primary interface to the customer base in most corporations.  Others have argued that IT shops have a right to manage social media streams because of the technical nature of the source information: Twitter, Facebook, etc.  Smaller, less sophisticated organizations may simply assign social media tracking to a lower level or even a summer intern with a good understanding of the media streams and practical knowledge of how the information is created and by whom. Continue reading “Social Media: Who Owns This Important Channel In Your Enterprise?”

Step Three in Mobilizing Your Contact Center – Let Management Roam

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • The ubiquitous nature of tablets and smartphones, coupled with the breadth of network access now made available via private and public clouds are making these endpoints valuable tools in managing systems and business processes remotely.
  • Changes in the contact center are occurring rapidly based on new and advanced technologies and the supervisory role of the management team will be affected positively as the use of tablets and smartphones allow supervisors to manage agents and processes more effectively, while roaming inside or outside the enterprise.

In my two previous contact center mobility blogs, I discussed making agents mobile by sending them home and providing a seamless customer experience via a smartphone. Recently while walking the aisles of the Enterprise Connect 2013 exposition this year something got my attention very quickly. Smartphones and tablets were everywhere and their use is transitioning from being a personal communication endpoint to a tool that can be used to simplify and enhance the user interface for demonstration and management purposes. A specific example of a contact center company making this transition is Voice4Net, a provider interactive voice response (IVR) and contact center applications for the enterprise, The company was introducing its new contact center management interface based on the iPad, to be used by contact center supervisors working remotely. The time to mobilize the contact center management team is now upon us. Continue reading “Step Three in Mobilizing Your Contact Center – Let Management Roam”

We Have Smart Consumers and Smartphones; Why Not Smart Contact Centers?

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • The vast majority of consumers calling into a contact center believe they know more about the products and services in question than the customer service agent answering their call.
  • More than three-quarters of consumers say they will only continue to buy from businesses that make interacting with their customer service organizations easy.

I recently read a report on a piece of research which revealed some interesting consumer perceptions about the state of the customer service industry.  According to the report, British Telecom and Avaya teamed up to do a market research study based on a survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and the UK.  As we might expect, the study confirmed that the use of smartphone applications, video conferencing, and video and Web chat is rapidly on the rise with consumers interacting with companies to ask questions and resolve product and service issues.  However, of more interest to me is the fact that 80% of people think agents struggle to answer their questions and 85% believe they have been put on hold simply because the agents did not know what to say during their conversation due to a lack of information and/or proper training.  This leads me to believe that enterprise customer service executives and managers, as well as contact center providers, are not doing a good job of tapping into ‘big data’ in the customer’s enterprise or preparing their agents to do the job.  From experience, I know that the data exists in most enterprises, but apparently enterprises are not very successful in getting the data to the agents when they need it, or getting the customer to the proper agent on the first try. Continue reading “We Have Smart Consumers and Smartphones; Why Not Smart Contact Centers?”